Coalition Airstrikes Destroy Scores Of Isis Boats Fleeing East Mosul
The U.S.-led coalition bombed 90 ISIS boats and three ISIS barges on Mosul’s Tigris River in three days, taking advantage of the militants’ attempts to flee the east of the city after Iraqi forces regained control of the river’s east bank.
The watercraft were being used to ferry ISIS militants and equipment from east Mosul – where the jihadist group has suffered a string of recent defeats to Iraqi forces – to west Mosul, which is still under the control of the group.
"We believe this was a desperate attempt to retrograde ISIL fighters now that the Iraqi Security Forces own the Eastern bank of every bridge in Mosul," said Col. John L. "JD" Dorrian, CJTF-OIR Spokesman said using a different acronym for ISIS.
"This is one more example of how the Coalition is supporting the military defeat of ISIL by launching air strikes while Iraqi military complete the clearance of Eastern Mosul," Dorrian added.
Since the operation to liberate Mosul begun, at least 112 watercraft have been destroyed.
Fighting in Mosul has intensified since the turn of the year as Iraqi forces have renewed an offensive against the ultra-hardline militants. Troops had got bogged down in late November and December after entering Mosul as ISIS fighters fought back with car bombs and snipers, and concealed themselves among a civilian population of up to 1.5 million.
The Iraqi army, Special Forces and elite police units have operated in tandem to capture different areas of eastern Mosul. The army is mostly deployed in the north, the CTS in the east, and the federal police in the south.
The loss of Mosul would probably spell the end of the Iraqi side of ISIS’ self-styled caliphate, which its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from a Mosul mosque as the militants swept through vast areas of Syria and Iraq in 2014.
Several thousand civilians have been killed or wounded in the Mosul fighting since October.